Tag:Kelvim Escobar
Posted on: June 23, 2009 6:04 pm

At Least They're Consistent?

The Angels' rollercoaster 2009 season continued last night with the team getting shelled 11-1 by the Rockies in Anaheim. That makes three straight losses by the club since reeling off seven wins in a row prior to this recent rough patch. I suppose the one thing we can say about these Halos is that they've been consistently inconsistent this season yet find themselves only a game out of first in the AL West entering play today (6/23). The Rangers have also been scuffling a bit, allowing the Angels to get close and hang around, but not take over first quite yet. The Mariners are also hanging around at a game over .500 and look like they may not go away altogether, like I thought they might. If Felix Hernendez and Erik Bedard stay healthy all season (big if) they should remain a .500 club or so.

Starting tonight, the Angels have a few more against the Rockies before continuing their tour of the NL West against the Diamondbacks in Arizona. After that, a big series in Texas that could see the winner standing alone in first in the division after it's over.

Just as the Angels rotation was beginning to get solidified, in personnel at least, Ervin Santana made his way back to the DL recenty. Sean O'Sullivan, who made and won his big league debut in SF last week will take Ervin's spot in the rotation. And while Kelvim Escobar recovers from his recent foray into the rotation, it appears it was a bit premature and overly hopeful to think he was ready to go 90-100 pitches every 5th day. I was convinced the bullpen was the right place for him, and it appears I was right. Take that, Scioscia.

The offense was starting to hit a nice little stride recently, and then the Dodgers and last night, Aaron Cook cooled them right off. Juan Rivera and Kendry Morales continue to provide at least some punch to the team's punchless lineup, but Vlad appears more and more done as each game passes. The offense often looks better without him, and that's tough to imagine, let alone say.

It appears the Angels are going to just say NO to Pedro. Good move. He's not the answer. Unless the question was who was the most dominant righty of the 90's? Well, it's not the 90's anymore and Pedro can't hit 90 on the gun either. Let him be another team's problem. Figgy continues to climb in the AL batting race and more importantly, get on base. It'll be interesting to see what the team does with Figgy after the season as he's a free agent. I like him at 2nd base personally, but I imagine the team is still considering that Howie Kendrick's position. I say re-sign Figgins for another 2-3 years and play him at 2nd base. Trade Howie. He'll probably end up being a pretty good hitter, but guys that hit .290-.310 with minimal pop are a dime a dozen...hell, that's our entire lineup, right?
Posted on: June 1, 2009 3:53 pm

Escobar's return raises questions.

Kelvim Escobar appears headed for the Angels' rotation. Would he be more valuable in the 'pen?

As Kelvim Escobar gets set to make what should be his final rehab start (tonight at Triple-A Salt Lake), it looks like Mike Scioscia and the Angels powers that be have decided that the big righty is going right back to his role as a starter. When Angels fans last saw Escobar, he was dominating AL lineups to the tune of an 18-7 record and a 3.40 ERA. Of course, that was 2007. Escobar missed all of last season after undergoing major shoulder surgery, an injury Escobar himself thought might end his career. When you take into consideration this recent injury, his history of injury, his experience pitching in a variety of relief roles and the Angels current bullpen struggles, I believe Escobar can better help the club win by heading to the pen.

All things equal, a starter does make a bigger impact on a game than a reliever. They pitch more innings and have more direct control over wins and losses than relievers, and so it makes sense to want your best pitchers starting, right? In most cases, yes. But in the case of Escobar and this Angels team, I say it makes more sense to send him to the pen.

All season, the Halos have pretty much led the AL in starters ERA. Even with the absence of John Lackey and Ervin Santana (who are both back), guys like Shane Loux, Dustin Moseley and especially Matt Palmer stepped up to give solid performances more often than not and mainstays Joe Saunders and Jered Weaver have been fantastic. Night-in and night-out, whoever the Angels have put out on the bump has given the team a chance to win. The problem has been that the Angels bullpen has blown more games this season than in the past few seasons combined (this may not be true, but it sure feels like it). As the starters have led the AL in ERA most of the season, the relievers have been last in ERA. And by a wide margin. Late inning stud Scot Shields has been atrocious, and is now on the DL, closer-in-waiting Jose Arredondo has been hit hard with a 5.32 ERA and a .310 BAA. New closer Brian Fuentes has been anything but lights-out, blowing three saves already including a 3-run lead to the Mariners on Saturday night.

So, yes, the bullpen needs help. And in my view, Escobar's versatility makes him ideal to help settle down the worst pen in the AL and to get the Angels back on track in the very winnable AL West. Escobar has been used out of the pen in the past, as recently as 2005 when he ws battling more injuries and even closed for the Blue Jays in 2002. He has the experience and mindset to handle the bullpen. In addition, given his injury history and the fact that he's coming off a major one, fewer innings might be just what the doctor, and Angels fans ordered. If he goes back in the rotation, a trip to the DL seems almost certain, fewer innings out of the pen coud help the club and get him ready for a starting role in 2010 (although he may be a FA after this season).

It just seems to me that the rotation is set right now with John Lackey, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders, Jered Weaver and the surprising Matt Palmer. Ervin and Big John have struggled, but they will right the ship. I suppose inserting Escobar into the rotation sends Matt Palmer to the pen. I'm not so sure Palmer's stuff translates to the pen. He's not a guy who can get a strikeout when needed, and this is often the case when coming out of the pen. He can get ground balls with his sinker, but in my view, his stuff his better suited to getting the club through 5-7 innings with a chance to win.

Put Escobar in the pen and use him in a variety of roles: 2-3 innings if needed, in a tight game in the 8th, or even as a closer if Fuentes continues to struggle. That's my thinking, but Kelvim is set to make his debut next weekend, as a starter. We'll see how his shoulder and our bullpen hold up.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com